China's first large homemade passenger jetliner is due to make its maiden flight from Shanghai later Friday.
The plane's maker is the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Comac, a government-owned firm founded in 2008 and tasked with the strategic goal of breaking the duopoly held by Airbus and Boeing.
The plane took off at around 2 p.m. The flight lasted about 80 minutes. It was built by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China or Comac.
The twin-engine C919, whose name sounds like the Chinese word for "everlasting", can seat 168 passengers in an arrangement similar to other narrow-body jets: three white-velvet upholstered seats line each side of its central aisle.
China Eastern Airlines will be the first carrier to operate the C919 when it completes testing and secures approval from China's aviation regulator.
It is a great achievement made under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, said the letter.
Kashin said that C919's development, production and operation will allow China to accumulate experience, and at the next stage, when a new airplane generation or a new significantly improved version of C919 is developed, to release a full-fledged competitor, which can challenge Boeing and Airbus. Many experts opined that China's bid in manufacturing airlines is driven more by nationalism and it has put commercial interests behind.
China's first large jetliner has successfully completed its maiden flight, a key moment in the country's push to challenge the US and Europe as a global manufacturer. But the project was abandoned later.
In 2007, plans to develop a Chinese-built large passenger jet were approved by the State Council. The aircraft was publicly unveiled in November 2015. More than 200,000 technicians worked on the project.
A similar thing happened to China's first domestically made jet. It is an achievement in global cooperation, said Wu.
The C919 is not entirely home-grown it includes key parts - including the engines - from US, European and Japanese suppliers. Comac also relies on worldwide technology from firms such as General Electric, Safran and Honeywell global.
The C919 will need to pass more tests to obtain Chinese airworthiness certification.
"China is willing to share growth opportunities with the rest of the world".
The statistic is a good reminder that developing an aviation industry takes many decades. The twin-engined jet took off at 2pm local time.
But this is only the very first step.
"If achieved, I think it will greatly enhance the accessible market of C919", he said.
COMAC has already received orders for 570 C919s from domestic aviation and leasing companies, benefitting from the national market, which is the second-largest in the world. (Tianjin lies on the coast of north-east China.) Boeing has signed an agreement with, perhaps ironically, Comac, to set up an Aircraft Completion Centre for the 737, in the city of Zhoushan, south of Shanghai.